What makes you shout? Your kid reaching for a cookie even though you told them not to? A coworker expecting you to do something when it isn’t your job? Someone cutting you off in traffic on the way here this morning? Duke making it to the Elite Eight? UNC not making it to the Elite Eight?
Question: Does Jesus ever make you shout? I’m not talking about a firm “Yes” as you politely sip coffee and wait for the next part of the sermon. I’m talking about a feel it in your belly, this is so exciting, I’m just that blessed by God so I’m gonna let the world know, kind of shout.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday before they even knew it was Palm Sunday, the people couldn’t help but shout. But it’s a bit strange shouting, isn’t it? Because there wasn’t anything altogether that spectacular about Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem. This morning we’re going to examine two things: (1) Why Shout? and (2) How to Shout?
I. Why Shout?
Picture the scene. Jesus was on the Mt. of Olives – which is just outside Jerusalem at about 2700 feet. That’s a decent height. From there he can see Jerusalem. Now – if you head back in Scripture just a chapter before Jesus tells his disciples this truth: 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem…and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Do you suppose Jesus could picture it from there? Could he see the garden where he would be betrayed and arrested? Could he see the courtyard where he would be falsely accused and condemned? Could he see Calvary…a hill not too far away…where he would hang on a cross and die?
Understand this. If you book a hotel on Priceline and you want to write it off for your taxes, you have to list the purpose of the business trip. A conference. A client meeting. A nearby Expo.
The point of Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem was that he would suffer and die to save people from their sin. Do you think the IRS would let him write that off on his taxes?
Yet in spite of the gloomy circumstances surrounding his impending stay in Jerusalem, Jesus made preparations to enter. As they approached Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
Maybe Jesus had made arrangements beforehand; maybe he’s just being divine and knowing exactly where to send the disciples to borrow a donkey. Because verse 6 says, The (disciples) went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.
Now how many here have been to a parade before? Parades are exciting. There are marching bands, beautifully decorated floats, acrobats, a giant balloon or two, and a few people tossing candy.
I grew up in a small town of 20,000 people. We had parades. They had the local beauty queen. A few dozen firetrucks. And that guy who’s driving along in a car--not a particularly impressive car either – maybe a 1997 Chevy Lumina minivan – and on the side of the car is the name of his business – “Bob’s A/C and Heating Supply”. The only thing interesting happening is that the guy is waving from the window. Maybe he’s tossing a few of those hard candies you get in droves from the dollar Store.
It’s not the most exciting.
Jesus is entering Jerusalem in a similar fashion. He’s not on a beautiful stallion. He’s not in the back of an awesome chariot. He’s not driving a fancy muscle car. He’s not at the top of a gigantic horse drawn podium like Santa Claus in the Macy’s parade.
He’s riding a donkey. A young donkey. He’s sitting on a coat for decoration. That’s it.
And the people went bananas: Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. The Apostle John tells us they were palm branches. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
I’ve never reacted with that kind of fanfare for a parade. How about you?
It makes you wonder why. Why are they that excited to see Jesus? If we examine their words closely, we’ll get clued in as to why this is so exciting:
Hosanna! Hosanna is a Hebrew word. It’s an imperative. It simply means “Save!”
If your basketball team has been struggling in any tournament game, maybe you caught yourself chanting: “Score!” Score! Score already!” It’s something they are capable of doing and you want them to do.
Why were these people chanting “Save!?!” “Teach!” we could understand. “Love!” would seem appropriate. “Make the Pharisees look bad,” would be a fun chant as well.
But this word “Hosanna” teaches us so much about who Jesus is. He’s more than a teacher. He’s more than a nice guy. He’s more than a rebel that made the local officials feel foolish.
He’s the Savior.
This is key. Your level of understanding of this one word alone will affect your excitement today and always.
Truth is there’s a lot going on in our lives – financial struggles, relationship breakdowns, constant business. Learning about Jesus at church or in your Bible seem just like one more thing to cross off the list of ‘ToDos”. Indistinguishable in importance from one bullet point to another. This whole idea of Jesus it might not seem all that exciting all the time. I don’t even toss out candy…usually.
So whether you’ve forgotten, not pondered it in a while ,or simply never been told, consider what Jesus saves us from. Here’s three simple passages:
1 Timothy 1: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…
Sinners are those who have done sin. Sin is anything wrong, selfish, greedy, lustful, rageful. Sin is God’s Word for wrong. It is the word for the awful things that humans say and do to each other.
Are you a sinner? Have you ever said or done something wrong? (I’m raising my hand real high right now.)
Not what 1 Timothy says though. Jesus came to save sinners. It doesn’t say that he came to show off. It doesn’t’ say that he came to high five the righteous. It says that he came to save! To remove sins that had marred our souls from before God’s sight. He came to wipe away our guilt. He came to cleanse us from sins!
This is a big deal. Because sins leads to God’s wrath. That's something else we need saving from. That’s because God hates sin and wants nothing to do with sin. He must punish it.
That may sound harsh, but consider how humans demand fairness. If you are driving down Falls of Neuse at 55 mph –the exact same speed as the car next to you and the cop pulls you over but not him, don’t you demand justice?
If you and a friend complete a test in school, but they get a higher grace because the teacher likes her better, don’t you demand justice?
If so, you’re like God. He’s just. He must punish all sin. Which means he must punish sinners. Sinners like you. Sinners like me.
Romans 5:9 says, We shall be saved from God’s wrath through Jesus! It’s as if Jesus saw God’s wrath coming and stepped in front of it for us.
Like a friend who stands in front of a fan, so that you don’t feel it’s cool breeze, Jesus stood in front of us so that we don’t feel the full force of God’s wrath! He did it on the cross. He suffered and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Then Jesus saved us from one more thing. 2 Timothy 1:10 says, “Our Savior, Jesus Christ…destroyed death and brought life…through the Gospel.” That happened on Easter. He broke open the grace and broke open death. Death no longer means eternal separation from God and from loved ones. By faith in Jesus death means life. Eternal life.
Maybe you are thinking, “That all sounds nice. But how do we know it’s true?” Check out the second line of praise from the Palm Sunday onlookers: “Blessed is He Who Comes in the name of the Lord.”
Ever been to the store looking for FDA approved meat? If you see that seal on the package, then you know the meat is safe to eat. The practices are humane. The food is not going to poison you. It’s approved by the FDA.
Jesus is God approved. He came in the name of the Lord. We know this from more than just the people’s words. We’re smarter than that. We know this from Jesus’ miracles. God miracles. Things no one else could do! He stopped storms, cast out incurable diseases, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to talk, and the dead to rise. On more than one occasion, a voice came from the skies – long before the time of microphones and speakers – and this voice said, “This is my Son whom I love with Him I am well pleased.”
God the Father had given his seal of approval for Jesus’ work. Jesus was now entering Jerusalem -- to suffer and die – work that was approved by God. Approved by the Father as the only way for you and me to get to heaven.
Buddha didn’t get that kind of approval.
Neither did Mohammed.
Neither did that Yoga teacher from Daily Burn ‘becoming one with your spirit’ breathing enhancement.
Jesus is the God approved way to be saved!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of the Father. This wasn’t the chant of some political zealots excited that the “God” party was being formed and soon all the rules in Ancient Rome would match up with God’s rule.
It means God had come to rule in hearts. To speak peace. To give joy. To hold in love. To promise a forever—happily ever after—in heaven to all who believe in Jesus.
Fear doesn’t rule. Peace does. Guilt doesn’t rule. Joy does. Hatred doesn’t rule. Love does. Death –awful, terrifying, frightening no longer rules. It’s not even death anymore. It’s life.
Hosanna in the Highest! Translated loosely this means “Raise the roof!” Why not? Look at all the awesome things that Jesus was going to do for the people in Jerusalem – the things he has done for you. He saved you from your sins. He saved you from your guilt. He saved you from eternal punishment. By believing in Him, he saves you to an eternity of pain free, guilt free, sin free bliss in heaven!
You see – we shout because God shouts! When our consciences shout, “Guitly. You are condemned. God can’t forgive you.” God speaks to us in His Word. He speaks through Jesus. He says, “You are forgiven. You are loved. You will be in heaven!!!”
That’s worth shouting about, isn’t it?
II. How to Shout
So…how loudly have you been shouting?
I don’t own an applause meter. I’m not going to hold it up and see if we can break Gethsemane’s all time decibel record on the next hymn. This isn’t an imperative to go downtown, set up a box on the curb, and scream at everyone who passes by.
Let’s worry less about how loud your voice is and more about how loud your life is. Think about the last couple of weeks…even months. How loudly have you been a witness for Christ?
· Are you certain to never miss a Sunday singing Amazing Grace in church OR just certain that you never miss a chance to sing karaoke?
· Can people glance at the cross by your workplace computer OR is it hard to find under the stacks of Duke memorabilia?
· Does your Facebook wall state, “I’m a Republican. I love country music. I’m obsessed with Hunger Games. I bleed NC State red. But…my religious views? That’s none of your business.”
Brothers and sisters, there are lots of people telling you to quiet down with your Christianity and your Jesus. Today I tell you crank it up! Turn that Jesus praise volume in your life all the way up! Do it in 3 Ways.
1) Shout in More Places.
If there’s anyone outside on a walk and I ran out and asked them what I just said, even if I was screaming it they would probably have no idea.
You can’t just shout in church. You need to “shout” in other places to.
Shout at home. Let them see you reading the Bible. Let them hear you praying. Make sure you practice forgiveness. Let them see you leaving for church. Shout at work. Invite someone to Easter. Pray for your friends. Lovingly, calmly, boldly share your faith in Jesus. Shout on the internet. Pass on Bible passages. Share what God has done for you today. Invite people Easter! Shout in other places too -- Shout in your neighborhood. Shout with your friends. Shout at the dog park, the laundromat, at Starbucks, at Goodberry’s for an ice cream. For goodness sakes shout in the library.
Wherever you are give glory to Jesus and don’t be afraid to let others know what Jesus has done.
2) Shout without Shouting.
The truth is that sometimes audible words aren’t enough. Sometimes big flashy, obnoxious, neon colored signs get your attention better than a few loudly spoken words. Krispy Kreme knows this and their light up “FRESH RIGHT NOW” sign drives people into the restaurant until the cars back up to the street.
Think of your life the same way. Jesus said, “Let your light shine that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Jesus’ point? Do everything you can to show people the love of Christ with your actions. Maybe they’ll take notice and then ask you and you’ll be able to tell them about what Jesus has done for them.
So be the best coworker you can be. Be the best neighbor your neighbor has ever had. Be an incredible mommy. Be a respectable father. Take pride in showing people love in a incredible, selfless, servant minded, “I’ve gotta pay attention to that” kind of way.
3) Shout Clearly
I love the Precious Lambs kids. But sometimes when I’m eating lunch with them, I have no idea what they just asked me. Perhaps it’s my ears OR perhaps it’s all the mashed potatoes up in their mouths.
Make sure your is a clear confession. If someone is seeing you drunk on Saturday night, but off to church Sunday morning, how is that clear? If someone is hearing you use foul language one minute and then, saying a prayer the next minute, how is that clear? If someone is hearing you invite them to church, but then you don’t show up at that same service, how is that clear? If someone is hearing you say “show love to everyone,” but then you are cold and abrasive to someone just because they look different than you, how does that clearly give praise to Jesus?
Shout clearly. Examine every aspect of your life to make sure it’s coming in line with God’s will. Make sure that everything you say and do points people back to Jesus!
Because here’s the deal. If on that first Palm Sunday – only a few people had politely golf clapped – thousands of people would have missed it. They would have missed seeing their Savior. They would have missed the cue to what he was about to do.
But together –that first Palm Sunday was an event for all to see. With everyone shouting God’s praises – it was clear that something awesome was going on. Something awesome was coming.
Together we are that voice. We are one loud voice. Shouted loudly in all kinds of places. Shouting loudly throughout North Raleigh. Shouting clearly this Easter message: JESUS IS THE SAVIOR! Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest! Amen.